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Lingayen Gulf | January 1945

The USS Louisville is struck by a kamikaze Yokosuka D4Y at the Battle of Lingayen Gulf, 6 January 1945

On 2 January, the US carrier, USS Ommaney Bay, was severely damaged by a kamikaze aircraft and would later need to be scuttled.  Three days later, the cruiser, USS Columbia, was also damaged when she was hit by 2 of the Japanese suicide planes.  US shipping received relentless kamikaze strikes that cost the Navy more than 1000 men due to those 30 hits.

Beginning on 6 January, a heavy naval and air bombardment of suspected Japanese defenses on Lingayen began.  Aircraft and naval artillery bombardment of the soon-to-be landing areas occurred, with kamikazes attacking again on the 7th.

USS Columbia, hit by kamikaze

On the 8th, it was observed that in the town of Lingayen, as a response to the prelanding shelling, Filipinos had begun to form a parade, complete with United States and Philippine flags – firing was shifted away from that area.

The USS Louisville had been hit on the 5th of January with one man killed and 52 wounded, including the captain.  The following day she was attacked by six successive plane, 5 were shot down, but one got through.

Rear Admiral Theodore Chandler

The strike on the Louisville was also notable for the death of RAdmiral Theodore Chandler, commanding the battleships and cruiser in Lingayen Gulf.  He was badly burned when his Flag ship was engulfed in flames, but jumped down to the signal deck and deployed hoses to the enlisted men before waiting in line for treatment with the other wounded sailors.  However, his lungs had been scorched by the petroleum flash and he died the following day.

An eye witness account of the attack on the USS Louisville, from John Duffy:

“All of a sudden, the ship shuddered and I knew we were hit again.  I was in charge of the 1st Division men and I yelled, “We’re hit, let’s go men!”  I was the first man out the Turret door followed by Lt. Commander Foster and Lt. Hastin, our Division Officer, then a dozen more men.

“The starboard side of the ship was on fire from the forecastle deck down.  One almost naked body was laying about ten feet from the turret with the top of his head missing.  It was the kamikaze pilot that had hit us.  He made a direct hit on the Communications deck.

“As the men poured out of the turret behind me, they just stood there in shock.  Explosions were still coming from the ammunition lockers at the scene of the crash.  We could see fire there too.  Injured men were screaming for help on the Communications Deck above us.  I ordered 2 men to put out the fire on the starboard side by leaning over the side with a hose.  That fire was coming from a ruptured aviation fuel pipe that runs full length of the forecastle on the outside of the ship’s hull.  That fuel pipe was probably hit by machine-gun bullets from the kamikaze just before he slammed into us.

USS Louisville during kamikaze attack

“Although there was no easy access to the deck above us, I ordered several men to scale up the side of the bulkhead (wall) and aid the badly burned victims who were standing there like zombies.  I also ordered 3 men to crawl under the rear Turret 1’s overhang, open the hatch there and get the additional fire hose from Officers Quarters.  These 3 orders were given only seconds apart and everyone responded immediately, but when they got near the dead Jap’s body, which was lying right in the way, it slowed them down…”

For some additional information on the Kamikaze, Click HERE.

The HMAS Australia was included in this fleet and would also come under heavy attack.  Her full story will be the following post.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

R.B. Cherry – Dallas, TX; US Army, Korea, Cpl., Co. G/2/24th Infantry Division, POW, KIA (Camp 5, NK)

Naomi Clark – Lima, OH; Civilian, WWII, Lima Army Tank Depot

The Flag flies in all weather, courtesy of Dan Antion

Alfred Guglielmetti (103) – Petaluma, CA; Civilian, WWII, Mare Island welder, battleship repair

Nancy Hussey – Bronxville, NY; US Coast Guard SPARS, WWII, Company Comdr. & coxswain

John M. Loncola (100) – Old Forge, PA; US Navy, WWII, CBI & PTO, Chief Petty Officer

Jocelyn L. Martin – Orewa, NZ; WRNZ Air Force, LACW # 77239

John R. Melton – Liberty, MS; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Seaman 1st Class # 2744530, USS West Virgina, KIA (Pearl Harbor, HI)

George Pendelton – Bristol. RI; US Navy, WWII

Robert E. Smith – San Francisco, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, fighter pilot

Robert Teza – Syracuse, NY; US Army, WWII, ETO

Richard Watson – Gorham, ME; US Army, WWII

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January 1945 cont’d

11th Airborne, Leyte

 

As the fighting for the 11th Airborne Division, on Leyte, came to a close, the battalions worked their way back to Bito Beach.  The 674th and 675th Glider Field Artillery and the 457th Parachute Field Artillery remained in strategic positions to cover them.

The Luzon Attack Force, commanded by VAdmiral Kinkaid, under MacArthur, was composed of 7th Fleet units and numbered more than 850 ships. This was divided into the Lingayen Attack Force (Vice Admiral Wilkinson commanding), the San Fabian Attack Force (Vice Admiral Barbey), a reinforcement group (R Admiral Conolly commanding), a fire support and bombardment group ( VAdmiral Oldendorf ) and surface and air covering groups (Rear Admiral Berkey and Rear Admiral C.T. Durgin, respectively, commanding). The Luzon Attack Force was to transport, put ashore and support elements of the 6th U.S. Army (Lieutenant General Walter Krueger) to assist in the seizure and development of the Lingayen area.

2→3 January – A military report showed that 111 enemy aircraft were destroyed on and above Formosa and the Ryukyu Islands.  B-24’s hit Haha Jima and Iwo Jima over a seven hour period and areas of Luzon and the Netherland East Indies (NEI) continued to be hit.

In preparation for the upcoming invasions of Iwo Jima, Okinawa and eventually Japan, Gen. MacArthur was placed in command of US ground forces and Adm. Nimitz over all naval forces.

3→4 January – the 3rd Fleet, operating under Admiral Halsey, with its fast carrier task force commanded by VAdmiral McCain, was to cover and protect the operation by air strikes over Luzon.  There was little airborne opposition, but unfavorable weather conditions somewhat reduced the toll of enemy ships, planes and facilities destroyed.

Yamashita’s division of Luzon

Early in January, Japan’s General Yamashita pulled his Fourteenth Army (260,000 men) back off of Luzon’s beach to conserve them. He was aware of the forthcoming invasions of American troops.

Yamashita divided his men into three defensive groups; the largest, the Shobu Group, under his personal command numbered 152,000 troops, defended northern Luzon. The smallest group, totaling 30,000 troops, known as the Kembu Group, under the command of Tsukada, defended Bataan and the western shores. The last group, the Shimbu Group, totaling 80,000 men under the command of Yokoyama, defended Manila and southern Luzon.

Yamashita tried to rebuild his army but was forced to retreat from Manila to the Sierra Madre Mts. of northern Luzon, as well as the Cordillera Central Mts. Yamashita ordered all troops, except those tasked with security, out of the city.

Almost immediately, IJN RAdm. Sanji  Iwabuchi re-occupied Manila with 16,000 sailors, with the intent of destroying all port facilities and naval storehouses. Once there, Iwabuchi took command of the 3,750 Army security troops, and against Yamashita’s specific order, turned the city into a battlefield.

Major Thomas McGuire

7 January – US pilot and ace, Major Thomas McGuire (38 victories) was killed in a low-level combat with a group of Japanese Zero fighters, led by Shiochi Sugita, the 3rd highest scoring ace of the IJN Air Force, over Negros Island.

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Military Humor – 

If it’s stupid, but it works > it ain’t stupid.

If at first you don’t succeed > call in an airstrike.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

James J. Bednarcik – Cleveland, OH; US Navy, WWII, PTO, SeaBee

Lawrence Brooks (112) – Norwood, LA; US Army, Australia, Pfc., 91st Engineering Battalion

Final Mission

Vincent D’Andrea – Sloatsburg, NY; US Navy, WWII, USS Broome

John Farnsworth (101) – Salem, MA; Civilian Conservation Corps  / US Army, WWII

David Gilbert (105) – South Bend, IN; US Navy, WWII

Richard “Dick” Lutes – Wiscasset, ME; US Navy, Vietnam, Chief Aviation Structural Mechanic, Black Beret, River PT Sailor

Timothy D. Minatrea – Quitman, TX; US Navy, Desert Storm, Aviation Electricians Mate 1st Class

David V. Nguyen – Oakland, CA; CA National Guard, 870th MP Co.

Charles A. Peachtree Jr. – Lexington, KY; US Army, WWII, infantry

Juanita Quintero (100) – Pinole, CA; Civilian, welder, Richmond Shipyards

Edwin Schmidt – Alton, IL; US Army, WWII, PTO, cartographer

Billy Turner – Ardmore, OK; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Seaman 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor, HI)

Wesley Woods – Hornlake, MS; US Army, MSgt., 1st Stryker Brigade/25th Infantry Division

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Closing 1944 with General Kenney

Gen. George C. Kenney

Being as the 5th Air Force, especially the 54th Troop Carrier Group, were operating so close to the 11th Airborne for so much of the war, I chose to finish up 1944 with the first-hand account from their commander….

 

General Kenney, Commander of the Fifth Air Force reported:

Sky Lancers

“Just before dark on 26 December, a Navy Reconnaissance plane sighted a Jap naval force of 1 heavy cruiser, 1 light cruiser and 6 destroyers about 85 miles NW of Mindoro {Philippines], headed toward San Jose.  We had available on out 2 strips there, 12 B-25s from the 71s Recon Squadron, the 58th Fighter Group (P-47s), the 8th Fighter Group (P-38s and the 110 Tactical Recon Squadron (P-40s).

“Every airplane that could fly took off on the attack, which continued until after midnight.  The Japs kept on coming and the planes kept shuttling back and forth, emptying their bomb racks and ammunition belts and returning for more.  In addition to the difficulty of locating and attacking the Nip vessels in the dark, the enemy made the job still harder by bombing our airdromes at intervals through the night.

“In order to see what they were bombing and strafing, some of our pilots actually turned their landing lights on the Jap naval vessels.  With neither time nor information for briefings during the operation, it was every man for himself and probably the wildest scramble the Nip or ourselves had ever been in.

“At 11:00 P.M. the enemy fleet started shelling our fields and kept it up for an hour.  Fires broke out in our gasoline dumps, airplanes were hit, the runways pitted, but the kids still kept up their attack.  The P-47s couldn’t get at their bomb dump because of the fire, so they simply loaded up with ammunition and strafed the decks of every ship in the Jap force.  They said it was “like flying over a blast furnace, with all those guns firing at us.”

“Shortly after midnight. the Jap fleet turned around and headed north. They had been hurt.  A destroyer had been sunk and a cruiser and 2 destroyers heavily damaged.

“The attack had saved our shipping at San Jose from destruction, but it had cost us something too.  Twenty-five fighter pilots and B-25 crew members missing.  We had lost 2 B-25s and 29 fighter aircraft.  During the next few days we picked up 16 of the kids who were still floating around the China Sea in their life rafts.  I got Gen. MacArthur to approve a citation for each of the units that took part in the show.

417th, Lindbergh with Col. Howard Ellmore

On the 30th, Lt.Col. Howard S. Ellmore, a likable, happy-go-lucky, little blond boy from Shreveport, LA, leading the 417th Attack Group, the “Sky Lancers” caught a Jap convoy in Lingayen Gulf, off Vigan on the west coast of Luzon.  In a whirlwind low-level attack, a destroyer, a destroyer escort, 2 large freighters and one smaller were sunk.

“It was a fitting climax to 1944, which had been an advance from Finschaven to Mindoro, a distance of 2400 miles, equal to that from Washington to San Francisco.  During that time, my kids had sunk a half million tons of Jap shipping and destroyed 3000 Jap aircraft.  Our losses of aircraft in combat during the year were 818.”

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Military Humor – 

“OKAY – You got the C-17 ON the carrier -NOW, how are you going to get it OFF?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Marvin D. Actkinson – Sudan, TX;US Army, Korea, Cpl., Co B/1/32/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin Reservoir, NK)

Hugh R. Alexander – Potters Mills, PA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Lt. Comdr., USS Oklahoma, Silver Star, KIA (Pearl Harbor, HI)

Kenneth Barhite – Alden, IA; US Army, WWII, PTO, 2nd Lt.,158th RCT/Americal Division

Mary M. Bevan – Greenwich, CT; USMC, WWII

Louis Block – Chicago, IL; US Navy, WWII

Hubert P. Clement – Inman, SC; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Fire Controlman 1st Class # 2619359, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor, HI)

Clayton L. Cope – Alton, IL; US Navy, USS Eisenhower

Donald Peterson – Auburn, CA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Lt., USS Rotanin

Tceollyar Simmons – Hacoda, AL; US Navy, WWII, Seaman 2nd Class # 3115534, USS California, KIA (Pearl Harbor, HI)

Thomas Smith (100) – Early Branch, SC; US Navy, WWII, Radioman 1st Class

Harvey Swack – OH; US Navy, WWII, PTO, aircraft mechanic

Larry Virden – Edwardsville, IL; US Army, Iraq

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SANTA’S ON HIS WAY!!

Leyte, eye-witness account from Gen. Robert Eichelberger

Gen. Douglas MacArthur, left, Lt. Gen. Robert L. Eichelberger, right.

“Eighth Army took over Leyte on Christmas Day.  There were 8 divisions fighting there when I assumed command.  When the 32nd Div. and 1st Cavalry broke through on a narrow front, GHQ described the Leyte campaign as officially closed and future operations as “mopping-up.”

“Actually, the Japanese Army was still intact.  I was told there were only 6,000 Japanese left on the island.  This estimate was in serious error.  Soon, Japanese began streaming across the Ormoc Valley, well equipped and apparently well-fed.  It took several months of the roughest kind of combat to defeat this army.  Between Christmas Day and the end of the campaign, we killed more than 27,000 Japanese.

Leyte painting, “FOLLOW ME!” by Col Aubrey Newman

“Many others, evacuated safely by bancas (small boats), and reappeared to fight the 8th Army on other islands.  I called these singularly alive veteran troops the Ghosts of Leyte.

“I am a great admirer of Gen. MacArthur as a military strategist…  But I must admit that after 6 years serving under him, I never understood the public relations policy that either he or his assistants established.  It seems to me ill advised to announce victories when a first phase had been accomplished…

“Too often, as at Buna, Sanananda, as on Leyte, Mindanao and Luzon, the struggle was to go on for a long time. Often these announcements produce bitterness among combat troops, and with good cause.  The phrase “mopping-up” had no particular appeal for a haggard, muddy sergeant of the Americal Division whose platoon had just been wiped out in western Leyte…  Or to the historian of the 11th Airborne, who wrote:

‘Through mud and rain, over treacherous rain-swollen gorges, through jungle growth, over slippery, narrow, root-tangled, steep foot trails, the Angels pushed wet to clear the Leyte mountain range…  It was bitter, exhausting, rugged fighting – physically the most terrible we were ever to know.’

11th Airborne field artillery on Leyte

The combat infantryman deserved the best and usually fared the poorest in the matter of sugar plums, luxuries and mail from home.  The home folks in America were vastly generous, but transport to the front could not always carry out their good intentions.  Ammunition and rations came first.  This – the G.I. could understand… But, it was disconcerting to find out he had only been “mopping -up”.

“If there is another war, I recommend that the military and the correspondents and everyone else concerned, drop the phrase “mopping-up” from their vocabularies.  It is NOT a good enough phrase to die for.”

This post is from “Our Jungle Road to Tokyo” by General Robert Eichelberger.

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.

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Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes – 

Clifford H. Bailey – Acoma, NM; (Acoma Indian Reservation); US Army Air Corps, Japanese Occupation, 11th Airborne Division

Benjamin R. Bazzell – Seymour, CT; US Army, Korea, Cpl; HQ/57FA/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin Reservoir, NK)

Chester Benoit – Putnam, CT; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 503/11th Airborne Division

James E. Cruise – Toronto, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, Navigator/ Flight Officer

Charles W. Harpe Jr. – Ashland, KY; USMC, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, Captain (Ret. 33 y.)

Anthony F. Mendonca – Waipahu, HI; US Army, WWII, PTO, Co A/106/27th Infantry Division, KIA (Saipan)

Lawrence Overley – Los Angeles, CA; US Navy, WWII, Fire Controlman 2nd Class #3820643, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor, HI)

Robert Leslie Putnam – Mason, OH; US Army Air Corps, Japanese Occupation / Korea, 188 &187th/11th Airborne Division // Deputy Sheriff, Police Chief

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/224877961/robert-leslie-putnam

James N. Stryker – W.Nanticoke, PA; US Army, Korea, Sgt., Co. L/3/23/2nd Infantry Division, KIA (Han’gye, SK)

Morris E. Swackhammer – Binghamton, NY; US Army, WWII, ETO, Pfc., Co. C/1/143/36th Infantry Division, KIA (Fraize, FRA)

Flora Wilhelm – Evansville, IN; Civilian, WWII, aircraft riveter

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Smitty’s Letter XV “Land”

Native outrigger canoes meet up with a Coast Guard transport.

[Please do not be offended by certain remarks, remember that these letters were written 77 years ago when people lived in another time and another world].

As the ships drew closer to Leyte, the American soldiers already on shore were being hampered by logistical problems which caused a severe delay in capturing the island.  When the 11th A/B division arrived on Bito Beach, General Hodge was finally able to move General Arnold’s 7th division and their plans started to come together.

Leyte activity map | enlarge for detail

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Letter XV                                         Landing                        Somewhere in the Philippines

Dear Mom,

We landed here in the Philippines yesterday morn, but before leaving the ship, the Japs treated us with their honorable (?) presence in the form of bombing planes.  Shore batteries kept hammering at them in the gloom of a misty a.m. and the tracer’s bullets reaching up to the planes made a very pretty but gruesome sight.   The way those tracer shells can pick out the planes you would think that they had a score to settle and just can’t wait to even it.

We landed finally on the beach, being taken to it in those much touted and not highly praised enough landing boats.  How boats can ground themselves  on land the way they do and still get off again unscratched is really a marvel.  Those boys who handle them also deserve a lot of credit and, as Winchell would say, “A great big orchid is due.”

The natives here were real friendly and helpful in a dozen different ways.  They ran up to the landing boats as soon as the bow of the boat sunk its bottom into the beach and helped us carry off our burdensome equipment.  It reminded me of Penn or Grand Central Stations with porters running helter-skelter all over the place.  The only thing missing to make the picture complete were the tell-tale red caps on their heads.

It wasn’t long after landing that we were organized into work groups and sent off to our chores.  Work kept on until we were hours into the night despite the fact that again, Jap planes came over.  I am happy to report that they will not be able to do so again, that is – not the same ones.

During the day we were handed K-rations for our dinner and after the excellent food we had aboard ship, they sure tasted like hell.  Just before dark last night, we were allowed a few moments to ourselves and at once set to work getting our tents erected.  Here again, the native men came in handy helping us to either put up the tents or dig our slit trenches.  Of course they don’t do any of this work for nothing, but for items such as undershirts, trousers, soap or most anything in the line of clothing.

I will write more about the people in a later chapter.  After all, you can’t do well to write about them on so short an acquaintance.  Right now we are busy setting up a camp decent enough to live in.  Having a few minutes to spare in between tents.  I thought I’d write this down before it completely slipped my unrententive and feeble brain.  There goes the whistle calling us back to work now, so until the next ten minute rest period, I’ll close with loads of love and car loads of kisses,

Love, Everett

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Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes – 

Howard R. Belden – Warren County, NY, US Army, Korea, Cpl. # 12107317, HQ Co/31/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin Reservoir, NK)

Roger Butts – Portsmouth, VA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Cook 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Gen. Colin Powell

Elvagine “Gene” Ertzberger – Rainier, WA; Civilian, WWII, shipyard welder

Lorenz D. Haselhofer – Watsonville, CA; US Navy, USS Hancock

Sonny Karcher – Enid, OK; US Army, Cold War

Fred M. Montanari – Westmoreland County, PA; US Air Force, pilot

Larry E. Murphy – E. St. Louis, IL; US Air Force & US Army, Cmdr. Sgt. Major (Ret. 36 y.)

Steven L. Nolin – New Brockton, AL; US Army Air Corps, Japanese Occupation, 188/11th Airborne Division

Henry G. Piper Sr. – Englewood, NJ; US Army, WWII, APO (Alaska)

Colin Powell – NYC, NY; US Army, Vietnam / General (Ret. 35 y.), Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff / Sec. of State

Edward Souza – New Bedford, MA; US Air Force

James Wallace – Brooklyn, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, SSgt., B-24 waist gunner, POW (escaped)

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Playing cards made history

Playing cards to pass the time

War can be hell… and war can be absolute boredom.  There are few better ways to pass the time than by playing cards.  They’re easy to carry: small and lightweight, they fit into a rucksack, duffel bag or Alice pack without having to sacrifice any piece of essential gear.

Plus – they’re cheap!

Wartime decks have been used to help soldiers in the field learn about their enemies and allies, to identify aircraft and even teach American history.  In the 2003 invasion of Iraq, American forces used playing cards to identify the most wanted members of Saddam Hussein’s regime.

The U.S. Army and the United States Playing Card Company cooperation goes way back.  But it was their brand Bicycle that took it to a whole new level.

During WWII, Allied Intelligence officers contacted the card company to produce the most clandestine deck of cards in history. According to the Geneva Convention, Allied POWs were guaranteed the right to receive mail and packages from the Red Cross.  The Allies saw this opportunity to smuggle useful objects to the prisoners.

map cards

This led to a top secret mission producing a deck of cards that included a hidden map, showing escape routes, directions and valuable tips and information which could help an escapee reach friendly lines or cross a border into a neutral country.

The map was concealed between 2 layers that formed the playing card.  Once it was submerged in water, the POW could peel off the layers and find part of the map on each card.  The cards were distributed at Christmas via the Red Cross Christmas parcels.  Being as cards were always included in their packages, these special decks went unnoticed by the camp guards.

The now famous but once top-secret map deck helped 32 people escape from Colditz Castle.  Very little is known about the clandestine decks, even today, for it was kept a secret after the war – as their use was a violation of the Geneva Convention.

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Did you know… ?

  1. The 4 suits in a decks represent the 4 season
  2. the 13 cards to each suit represent the phases of the lunar cycle
  3. 52 cards to a deck is for the 52 weeks in a year and
  4. There are 365 symbols in a deck for the days of the year

These items were condensed from those found in “The Voice of the Angels” newspaper of the 11th Airborne Division Association.

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13 October – U.S. Navy Birthday     246 Years 

U.S. Navy Birthday

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Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes – 

Marvin D. Actkinson – Palo Pinto County, TX; US Army # 18347542, Korea, Cpl., Co B/1/32/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin Reservoir, NK)

Victor E. Barrett – Westminster, SC; US Merchant Marines

Withold “John” Brazinskas – brn: Flatow, GER; US Merchant Marines, Vietnam

Charles H. “Chubby” Damsel Jr. – Columbus, OH; US Army, counter-intelligence

Donald E. Farry – Lake Worth, FL; US Army

Jeffrey B. Faivus – Huntington, NY; US Army, Captain

Harvey C. Fruehauf Jr. – Grosse Pointe, MI; US Navy

Wayne F. Galloway – New Castle, IN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Medical/11th Airborne Division

Denis H. Hiskett – Nebraska City, NE; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Fireman 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor, HI)

Lyman R. Sisney – Benton, IL; US Army, Korea, Co A/187th Regiment Airborne

Jack K. Wood – Wichita Falls, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 1st Lt., 344/98/9th Air Force, navigator, KIA (Ploiesti, ROM)

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Leyte | start of November 1944

3 November – When the Japanese 57th Regiment arrived at Limon, Gen. Krueger’s 24th Division was on the other side of the mountain range.  Rather than attack the lightly defended enemy positions, he halted his troops.  For some reason, he was expecting a possible enemy amphibious landing and the US attack would not begin for 2 more days.

5→10 November – in the 19th year of Showa, for the Japanese, the G.I. mortar and machine-gun fire seemed to nearly wipe out the squad scaling the ridge.  As the brush caught fire, the Americans of I Company/3rd Battalion/21st Infantry Regiment/ 24th Division, attacked and charged over the ridge until the enemy’s big guns opened up.  Another Japanese force arrived and the US troops retreated.  This would be known as Breakneck Ridge [Yahiro Hill to the Japanese].

Breakneck Ridge, Leyte; courtesy of Koji Kanemoto

Even with the support of the 1st Cavalry, the soldiers were pushed back, but they would return on the 8th.  They then proceeded to continually hit the ridge until the 10th, when the Japanese 3rd Battalion was ordered to tenshin. (which means to turn around and advance).  The few survivors remaining did make it back to their supply depot.

Breakneck Ridge (highlighted) map

6 November – Japanese convoy MA-TA 31 escorted by 2 cruisers and other escorting vessels was attacked by a wolfpack of US submarines, Batfish, Ray, Raton, Bream and Guitarro at Luzon.  The Ray fired 6 rear torpedoes at the enemy cruiser  Kumano and destroyed her bow.

US Hellcat fighters and bombers with Avenger torpedo planes attacked enemy airfields and shipping installations throughout southern Luzon.  The US aircraft were intercepted by about 80 Japanese fighters and a dogfight ensued over Clark Field.  The enemy lost 58 planes and 25 more later in the day.  More than 100 Japanese aircraft were destroyed on the ground.  One cruiser sank in Manila Harbor and 10 other vessels were heavily damaged.

IJN Shimakaze

10→11 November – Another Japanese convoy, carrying 10,000 reinforcements for Leyte, escorted by 4

Japanese transport under attack

destroyers, a minesweeper and a submarine chaser.  They were screened by 3 other destroyers, but were intercepted by the US 10th Fleet aircraft as they made their turn into Ormoc Bay.  Before they could reach the harbor, the TF-38 aircraft attacked.  The first wave aimed at the transports.  The second wave hit the destroyers and third wave strafed the beaches and the burning destroyers.  Nine of the ships sank and 13 enemy planes providing air cover were shot down.

The FEAF (Far East Air Force, the 5th A.F.) used 24 B-24’s to hit Dumaguerte Airfield on Negros Island in the P.I. and fighter-bombers were sent to the Palompon area on Leyte.  Targets of opportunity were hit on Mindanao.  Fighter-bombers and B-25s hit shipping and Namlea Airfield, and P-38s hit Kendari Airfield on Celebes Island while B-24a bombed the Nimring River area.

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.

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Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes – 

Adrian Cervini – Flint, MI; USMC, Korea

Margaret Christie – Toronto, CAN; Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service, WWII

Final Mission

Joseph Devlin – Johnstown, PA; US Navy, WWII, submarine service

Roy D. Eneroth – Thornton, WA; US Army, WWII, PTO

Wesley E. Graham – Watervliet, MI; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Seaman 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor )

John Klunder – E.Elmurst, NY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, radioman 1st Class, USS Fayette (APA-43)

Anthony R. Mazzulla – Bronx, NY; US Army, Korea, 1st Lt., Co B/1/32/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin Reservoir, NK)

George E. Park – Bedford, MA; US Navy, WWII, Quartermaster/Navigator, USS Bunker Hill

Duane I. Pierce – Lyndon, VT; US Navy, WWII, PTO

William Potoka Sr. – Mt. Pleasant, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co C/127th Engineers/11th Airborne Division

John R. Samuelson – Page, City, KS; US Army, WWII

Jim Warnica – Clovis, NM; US Navy, WWII, PTO

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Leyte continued

LST’s # 66,67,18,245,102 on 20 October 1944

While the Imperial Navy was floundering in their attempts to halt the persistent invasion of Leyte, Gen. Yamashita was in his headquarters at Fort McKinley on Luzon.  He was receiving very little information from his own people and upon hearing of the US landing, he was heard to say, “Very interesting.  But where is Leyte?”  [The Japanese general had only just been transferred from Manchuria.]

Yamashita did not feel that the Japanese all-out standing defense should be on Leyte and he refused to supply more troops to the island.  But he was overruled.  Gen. Terauchi, knowing that the island’s occupation by the Americans would divide their bases, so reinforcements would be sent in.

Yamashita Tomoyuki, 1945

21 October – Most of the Japanese beach defenses had been shattered by bombing and strafing and a majority of the 1st Battalion/16th Division had been wiped out.  Parts of Tacloban had been liberated by the US troops and Gen. Makino was now forced to split the remainder of his 16th Div. in half, North and South Defense Forces.

As the ground forces continued fighting, Japanese aircraft from all other bases in the Philippines arrived on Luzon to support the plans for a counteroffensive.

airfield construction

25 October – Gen. Sosaku Suzuki, in charge of defending the Central Philippines, still was receiving inferior or misleading intelligence and remained confident of Japanese victory because:  He still expected support from the Navy; he had glowing reports concerning Formosa; he was told that ALL US carriers had been sunk and no American aircraft were flying over his headquarters on Cebu.  Suzuki told his Chief of Staff, Gen. Tomochika, “…we are about to step on the center of the stage.  There is no greater honor or privilege.”

Two Japanese units were on en-route to Luzon:  the Japanese 1st Division [the Gem Division] to land at Ormoc on the west coast and the 26th Division at Carigara in the north.

MacArthur surveys Leyte beach, 1944

MacArthur’s summary:

“The assault continued after a rapid consolidation of the first few days  objectives.  Numerous enemy counterattacks were beaten off in all areas during the next few days as advancing forces reported increased resistance on every front.  By the end of the third day, over 2,000 Japanese had been reported killed…

“On 24 October, elements of the XCorps began a drive up the Leyte side of San Juanico Strait, while farther south other units of the Corps pushed westward.  At the same time, the XXIV Corps directed attacks northward and westward.  The 96th Div., moving inland from Dulag, met heavy opposition from fortified positions on Catmon Hill, a terrain feature dominating the division’s zone of action and giving protection to enemy mortars bobbing shells toward the assault shipping in Leyte Gulf.  Catmon Hill was initially by-passed, then neutralized by naval guns and field artillery and finally cleared of the enemy by 31 October.”

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Military Humor – 

“You’re doing it wrong.”

Practice aircraft carrier??

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Keefe R. Connolly – Markesan, WI; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Hospital Apprentice 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Daniel Coons Jr. – Fort Madison, IA; US Army, WWII

Joe Chadwell Tullahoma, TN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Charles A. Day – Redwood, CA; US Army, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, Colonel (Ret.)

Stanley L. DeWitt – Royal City, IN; US Army, Korea, Sgt., Medical Detachment/57th FA/ 7th Infantry Division, Bronze Star, KIA (Chosin Reservoir, NK)

Robert C. Martin – Lakemore, OH; USMC, WWII, PTO, radio/gunner, Putple Heart

Mortimer Goodkin – Short Hills, NJ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ATO (Adak, AK)

Robert Killey Sr. – Elmira, NY; US Coast Guard

Reuben Klamer – Canton, OH; US Navy, WWII, PTO, V-7 program  / boardgame developer

Michael T. MIles – Wikes Barre, PA; US Army

Joe R. Nightingale – Kalamazoo, MI; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Seaman 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Elizabeth Thew – Hopeswell, VA; Civilian, WWII, Corsair cockpit construction / military librarian

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Leyte, Philippines begins

Leyte, Oct. 1944

20 October – the X and XXIV Corps of the 6th Army, under General Krueger, made their amphibious landing on a 25-mile (40 km) stretch of coastline between Dulag and Tacloban on the eastern side of Leyte.

At 0945, the 1st Cavalry went ashore on White Beach, the 24th Infantry Division went on their left at Red Beach and the 96th Infantry Division landed further south on Orange and Blue Beaches.  They all moved inland for about a mile, hitting stiffer resistance as they went.

MacArthur observing the beach at Leyte

The 7th Infantry Division at Violet and Yellow Beaches had the lightest opposition, but Dulag was taken by the following day.  MacArthur described the view he witnessed from the flag bridge of the USS Nashville:

“Landings are explosive once the shooting begins and now thousands of guns were throwing their shells with a roar that was incessant and deafening.  Rocker vapor trails criss-crossed the sky and black, ugly ominous pillars of smoke began to rise.  High overhead, swarms of airplanes darted into the maelstrom.  And across what would have ordinarily been a glinting, untroubled blue sea, the black dots of the landing craft churned towards the beaches.

“From my vantage point, I had a clear view of everything that took place.  Troops were going ashore at Red Beach near Palo, at San Jose on White Beach and at the southern tip of Leyte on tiny Pansom Island…”

Gen. MacArthur walking into the Philippines.

MacArthur became impatient and ordered a landing craft to carry him and President Osmeña to Red Beach for a dramatically staged arrival back to the Philippines.  But the boatload of VIP’s and press were caught in a traffic jam of vessels making an effort to the same makeshift pier.  The harassed beachmaster directed the VIP’s away and said, “Let ’em walk!” This more and likely is the reason for his surly expression in the famous photograph, despite him trying later to create a better one.

Mac went into the 24th’s area and sat on a log with Osmeña and a Signal Officer gave the general a microphone.  The “Voice of Freedom” was back on the air and Mac gave his speech, “People of the Philippines, I have returned…”  His aides noticed that the speech left him shaken and visibly moved.

By evening, a 17-mile beachfront was taken with only light casualties, but a serious enemy counter-attack came with Japanese torpedoes bombers that scored a hit on the USS Honolulu.  Approximately 22,000 enemy troops were dug into their positions in the hills behind Tacloban.


The X Corps had unfavorable conditions in terrain and sporadic mortar and artillery fire which caused them to take 5 days to complete unloading.  This however did not prevent them from the establishment of their beachhead.

MacArthur’s summary:

“The enemy’s anticipation of attack in Mindanao caused him to be caught unawares in Leyte and the beachheads of the Tacloban area…  The naval forces consisted of the 7th US Fleet, the Australian Squadron and supporting elements of the 3rd US Fleet.  Air support was given by naval carrier forces, the Far East Air Force, and the Royal Australian Air Force.  The enemy’s forces include the 14th Army Group under Field Marshall Count Terauchi, of which 7 divisions have been identified – 16th, 26th, 30th, 100th, 102nd, 103rd and the 105th.”

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Current News – Happy 74th Birthday to the U.S. Air Force 9/18/1947 

https://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com/?s=air+force+birthday

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Military Humor – 

“The situation in Iraq appears to be going well, gentlemen. THAT however, is a map of Staten Island.”

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Farewell Salutes – 

James C. Barnhart – Somerset, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Purple Heart / Korea, Purple Heart

A. Charles Casadonte Jr. – Herkimer, NY; US Army, WWII, ETO, Co. B/111 Medical Battalion

Keith Dunker – Dayton, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Pt., pilot

Lester Flack – Guest, KY; US Army, WWII, 22 Infantry Division

Richard Gartee – Monroe, MI; US Navy, WWII

David M. Hardy Jr. – Tucson, AZ; US Navy, WWII, USS Louisville

Richard G. Hudak – Elizabeth, NJ; USMC, Vietnam, Captain

Teppo K. Jokinen – brn: Hyvinkää, FIN/ Everett, WA; Finnish Air Force

Paul Mazal – Loomis, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, P-47 pilot, Lt.  # O-763693, 513/406th Fighter Group, KIA (GER)

Andrew Pellerito – MI; USMC, WWII, PTO, Cpl. # 355031, Co. K/3/2nd Marine Div., KIA (Betio, Tarawa)

Joseph C. Rouse – Riverside, NC; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Seaman 1st Class # 2624770, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Helen Scallion – Birmingham, AL; Civilian, WWII, B-24 & 25 electrical system construction

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Letter XIII Latrines

High class facilities in the Philippines, 1944

Back in the states, people were still dancing to the tunes of The Dorsey Brothers, Count Basie and Artie Shaw.  They listened to the songs of Doris Day, the Andrew Sisters, Lena Horne and Rosemary Clooney.  But, some others weren’t so lucky, in the army there was always latrine duty, as depicted in the following letter from Smitty.

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Letter XIII                               Latrines                        Wednesday 9/5/44

Dear Mom,

Many are the times you have heard me refer to the latrines.  Never before had I any conception or realized the amount of genius and mathematical figuring that was necessary for the building of one of these casual looking comfort stations.

Yesterday I had the dubious honor of being selected, with four other disgruntled G.I.s, to labor on a detail whose sole aim and mission was the digging and building of a latrine.  It seems that in order to get a latrine built correctly there also has to be present a lieutenant and a hard to please sergeant.  Their presence is essential due to the fact that if they weren’t around, it would never get built, no less started and to supervise the completion and finesse details of the finer points necessary for sanitation and the comfort of the men.  You can most generally find these two worthy in some far off spot, away from all the work.

slit trench

To begin with, a place is chosen suitable for a latrine, generally about a half mile from the nearest inhabitant and well hidden in the brush and woods.  This is done for the very simple reason that it affords the stricken G.I. a chance to brush up on his long forgotten tracking and compass reading lessons, also the hike involved tends to make up for the many he has missed.

You wait then while the Lt., in a very business-like manner, marks out the length and width desired.  When finished, he gives you a short speech on the importance of the detail and the time limit allotted, ending with: “Good digging fellows.  I know you can do it, as you are the picked men!”

You pick up your shovels and picks and gloomily get to work.  First, the picks are put into play loosening up the stubborn ground.  Then, the shovels get to work removing the loose dirt, making sure to pile it evenly around the hole.  This procedure is followed until finally you have now a hole six feet long by five feet in width with a depth ranging anywheres from six to eight feet.  Try as you may to dig less than six feet, the sergeant always has a ruler handy which he guards with his life.  One would think that a latrine hole that size would last forever, but as I found out, in the army — they don’t.

conventional pit latrine

Next step is to lower into this hole oil drums whose both ends have been removed.  This end cutting process is something foreign to us as they had another detail doing that the day before.  I understand though that it is a highly skilled job in that keeping the ax blades from chipping is quite a problem.  These drums, once lowered and set side by side, draws to a close the crude laborious end of the job.

Boards, saws, hammers and nails now appear along with some overbearing would-be carpenters.  They proceed to build a coffin-like box which looks more like anything else but a box.  This affair, when finished, is fitted over the hole, covering completely the hole and part of the piles of loose dirt spread around the outer fringe.  This type of latrine box is called the settee type.  It is very comfortable to sit on if rough boarding isn’t employed.  When the box is completed to the satisfaction and sitting height comfort of all present, holes are then cut in the top.  These holes are oval in shape, but of different width and shapes.  The rear end of a G.I.’s anatomy, I’ve found, has many varied shapes and sizes.

The next thing to put in an appearance is the latrine blind and screen.  This is very simple, although at times men have leaned back into it and got tangled up in the canvas, bringing it where the blind should be.  While the blind is being put up on a long pipe, funnel-shaped at one end comes up and demands a lot of detailed attention.  The height of this pipe, when set, is a trial and tribulation to all and never satisfies all who use it.  This funneled affair is intended for what all funnels are.  The directing of a stream of water.

The Lt. and sergeant now come out of hiding, inspect it and proclaim it a job well done and worthy of their time and supervision, strutting off gaily chatting, leaving us to find our way alone, unguided and without a compass, back to our tents.  We, in the building of this latrine were fortunate in that we only had to erect it once and it was the correct position.  Generally, you dig three or four only to find out that it is out of line somehow with the next latrine a mile away.

Army pail field latrine

Generals, colonels and majors all visit while you are at work.  Their presence is also needed for the fact that when they are around, you stand at attention and in that way get a moment’s rest.  The captain generally comes out to see how you are doing and always tells you to hurry it up as the boys back in camp are prancing around like young colts and doing weird dance steps all the while hoping that they can hold out until its completion.

When once finished and back in camp, you are kept busy giving the boys directions as to where it is and then have to listen to them gripe about the distance away from their tent the blame thing is.  It is, I have found out, a thankless detail and one I intend missing the next time there is one to be built.  There are of course different types of latrines as the illustrations show, but most of those are for troops on the move.  Now, why they should say, ‘troops on the move’ I do not know, for certainly no matter whether in the latrines or on the way to it, you are most certainly moving.

Before any G.I. finds the latrine, the flies are already there.  No latrine is a latrine until after a family or two moves in.  They too are necessary in that without them as an annoying element, some men would never leave, others would fall asleep, while others would use it as an indefinite hiding place from some hike or detail.  Latrines are also necessary for rumors.  Until a good latrine is built, rumors around the camp lay dormant.  Many new and strange acquaintances are made and the souls of many a man have been saved while sitting in this sanctuary place of appeasement.

No place in the army gets the care and attention of a latrine.  Orderlies are assigned daily to see to its cleanliness.  Medical inspections are twice a week, while on Saturdays it has to stand a general inspection.  It is the haven of good-fellowship, conversations and a relief to all men in the end.

Hoping I have portrayed for you the army’s version of a rest station, I’ll close, as the flies in here are very annoying and the fellow standing and waiting for me to leave is going into a rage and walking up and down all the while eyeing me up and down as if to kill.

Ending this in a hasty departure and on the run, I am always, 

Your son, Everett

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Military Humor –  Smitty’s artwork !   “When the WACs Take Over ? “

“Too much beer last night, Miss Pringle?”

“Damn these G.I. latrines”

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Farewell Salutes –   In honor of the recently lost 13, Kabul, Afghanistan

The Marines were part of the 2nd Battalion/1st Marines, SSgt. Ryan C. Knauss of Corryton, TN was with the 82nd A/B Division

David Espinoza – Rio Bravo, TX; USMC, Lance Cpl.

Nicole L. Gee – Sacramento, CA; USMC, Sgt.

Darin Taylor Hoover – Salt Lake City, UT; USMC, SSgt.

Hunter Lopez – Indio, CA; USMC, Cpl.

Rylee McCollum – Jackson, WY; USMC, Lance Cpl.

Dylan R. Merola – Rancho Cucamonga, CA; USMC, Lance Cpl.

Karem Nikoui – Norco, CA; USMC, Lance Cpl.

Daegan William-Tyeler Page – Omaha, NE; USMC, Cpl.

Johanny Rosariopichardo – Lawrence, MA; USMC, Sgt.

Humberto A. Sanchez – Logansport, IN; USMC, Lance Cpl.

Jared Schmitz – St. Louis, MO; USMC, Lance Cpl.

Maxton Soviak – Berlin Heights, OH; US Navy, Corpsman (assigned to the 1st Marines)

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